Bat tests positive for rabies after biting visitor at Keystone condo

Rabies is among the rarest diseases in the United States, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, but local health officials still want to remind residents and visitors to avoid contact with wild animals

A bat tested positive for rabies after biting an out-of-state visitor at a condo in Keystone late last month, according to a news release from the Summit County Public Health Department. 

The visitor is seeking treatment in their home state after receiving immediate emergency care locally to prevent rabies and is expected to be fine, the release states. Still, the first case of rabies in Summit County this year has prompted public health officials to urge residents and visitors to be cautious around bats and other wildlife.

“Finding a bat hanging under the eaves of a house, under a porch overhang or hidden behind gutters is normal,” Summit County Public Health Director Amy Wineland said in the news release. “However, you should not touch them.”

Summit County Animal Control tested the deceased bat after it bit the visitor on July 25, according to the news release. In Colorado, bats and skunks make up the majority of rabies cases, although any mammal can become infected by the potentially life-threatening viral disease, the release states.

Overall, most bats that inhabit this state are healthy, and the ones seen flying around at night probably aren’t rabid, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and rabies from bats accounts for about one human death per year in the United States.

Rabies is now the second-most rare disease in the United States and Canada, behind polio, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website states, but simple precautions, such as being especially wary of wildlife exhibiting weird behavior, could still save lives.

“A bat that is active during the day, found on the ground, or is unable to fly is more likely than others to be rabid,” Wineland noted.

Exposure to rabies is generally the result of a bite or scratch by an infected animal, and is sometimes undetectable, such as a tiny puncture of the skin, according to the Summit County Public Health Department.

The health department recommends avoiding any contact with wild animals, especially those that are acting unusual. Any wound caused by an animal should be thoroughly washed with soap and water and receive medical attention immediately. Dogs and cats should also be up to date on vaccinations.

Any animal acting strangely should be reported to non-emergency dispatch at 979-668-8600, the release states, and any person or pet bitten or exposed to a bat should call the Summit County Public Health Department at 970-668-9161.

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